Emanu-el Sisterhood Residence (now the San Francisco Zen Center)

Julia Morgan

Just as Christian women asked Morgan to design a number of YWCAs, a Jewish women's group commissioned this building. Like the YWCAs, it provided housing for single working women as well as recreational facilities. The three-story building with a basement (where the gym is located) is on a sloping corner site. A large courtyard is located on the main level with residential areas on the top two floors.

The facade and a view of the corner


The formal entrance

The formal facade is symmetrical, a legacy of Morgan's classical Beaux-Arts training. The entrance bay is slightly projected and the wide staircase helps to minimize the awkwardness of the sloping site. The fanlight of the main door repeats those of the full-length casements on the first floor.


A first floor window

Full-length casement windows (French doors) with fanlights add to the formality of the facade. A stylized Doric frieze borders the window.


A cornice detail

The soffit is painted with floral designs in panels and there is a sense of a frieze with decorative rosettes in terra cotta.


View of the side and the loggia of the open courtyard

A large open courtyard is on the main floor. The iron balcony of its loggia incorporates the Star of David as part of its design.

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